SailNet Community banner

1 - 20 of 167 Posts

·
Senior Smart Aleck
Joined
·
2,152 Posts
Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Partly out of disgust for the spate of recent threads and posts by would-be sailors looking for the easiest way to buy themselves into becoming good sailors, I decided to re-read "Dove" by Robin Lee Graham, the story of a 16 year old boy who sails around the world in five years, starting in 1965 with a Lapworth 24 and finishing with an Allied 33, thanks to the sponsorship of National Geographic. It is apparent that Robin Lee Graham was actually a skilled and experienced sailor at age 16, having cruised Polynesia with his parents for a year or two and having learned celestial navigation. He made his way around the world in a simple boat using old-fashioned seamanship, not the latest and greatest purchases in boat, gear and electronics.

I was interested to read the following passage, still pertinent today:

"Been teaching other yachtsmen around here [U.S. Virgin Islands] how to navigate. I'm always amazed how little some people know about sailing. A lot of inexperienced people go cruising before they know what they're getting into."

Dove by Robin Lee Graham, p. 144 (Bantam Books, 1974, 20th ed. 2/84)).
 

·
Registered
Corsair 24
Joined
·
4,594 Posts
it will always be this way...the masses will always be less inspired, instructed and profficient than those who with a PASSION to so...it applies not JUST to sailing...but MANY things

dove was what inspired me, when I was a kid...but Im guilty as charged as Im not proffcient in celestial navigation but can do some basic equations and sights...

I wish I knew more and studied more too...

in cooking there is a saying that you can never learn everything...all cuisines, ever...there is always something new to learn...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
620 Posts
I'm always amazed how little some people know about sailing. A lot of inexperienced people go cruising before they know what they're getting into."
Could have been me 30 years ago, mostly self taught
with lot of bumps and grinds along the way but always
willing to learn from others and have always tried to pay it forward...to those willing to listen.
 

·
Registered
Corsair 24
Joined
·
4,594 Posts
paying forward...the classic sailing karma standard, or how it should be at least!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,033 Posts
Longer than that:

Biscayne Bay Yacht Club Beginnings, 1887

"The Club had its origin a little later that spring; one day at Peacock's, Kirk Munroe broached the subject, and we at once organized, he electing me commodore, and I doing the same for him as secretary. This friendly arrangement lasted without interruption until 1909, when I declined renomination, my health being poor, and the club having transferred most of its activities to Miami. Kirk continued as secretary until 1922. I designed the club flag, bearing the emblem of a large "N" interlaced with the figures"25," signifying twenty five degrees north latitude, since we were the most southern club in the country. Mariners abbreviate this to 25 N, but as mariners are not very common among yachtsmen the flag device has almost always had to be explained, and therefore is not entirely a success!"

- from "The Commodore's Story", by Ralph M. Munroe and Vincent Gilpin
 

·
the pointy end is the bow
Joined
·
6,265 Posts
A problem with inexperience, is that folks getting into something new, don't know what they don't know. I look back to our first couple of years of sailing when I was young and knew everything and I'm just thankful we matured to "not knowing everything" without getting hurt.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
545 Posts
I could use suggestions as to what books would be best or even adequate on the
subject of navigation. Almost all the books on line are from used book sellers.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,181 Posts
Partly out of disgust for the spate of recent threads and posts by would-be sailors looking for the easiest way to buy themselves into becoming good sailors...
I'm not sure that this is such a bad thing. If someone is trying to become a good sailor by buying a lot of high end stuff I see it as their desire to improve and boost their ability and desire to sail. Eventually, when they keep sailing, they get better at it.
I confess... I'm currently looking for a bargain boat outfitted by one of those guys with all kinds of bells and whistles only to give up on their big dream. :cool:
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,033 Posts
I could use suggestions as to what books would be best or even adequate on the
subject of navigation. Almost all the books on line are from used book sellers.
I have a list of free ebooks here. The recommended reading thread has good stuff all through it.
 
  • Like
Reactions: outbound

·
Registered
Joined
·
39 Posts
"I could use suggestions as to what books would be best or even adequate on the
subject of navigation. Almost all the books on line are from used book sellers."


There's a lot of good information out there (see list above) but the two that I think are the most useful are The Annapolis Book of Seamanship by John Rousmaniere, and Chapman's Pilotage. Chapman's is aimed more at power boating than Annapolis but either are great books to have handy.
 

·
sunfish?junior?
Joined
·
749 Posts
Take away chartplotters and 98% would never leave the dock .....
as opposed to the 90% that never leave it anyway :laugher
Why kick someone for trying to join the game ? If they leave the dock good for them ! If they just sit at the dock and dream good for them.
Honey will bring ants to the picnic. Learning to sail is low on the list for most people Sharing a day or trying to add education an history is going to win them over.
I am sure it is hard to watch people who do not have skill but how will they ever get skill with out a beginning ? If they are 16 or 60 they have to start at the beginning. Some may take one year to get to x proficient others ten. It is ok if you are in a hurry you would not be trying to sail.
Money and performance rules. A hand held GPS will cost ? and will take how much time and skill to learn. A sexton cost ? and will take how much time and skill? They quit printing charts also. That kind of puts a knife in the beast. If you want people to know you will need to share with joy and pride the ability that you have.
Nothing has changed in 50 years or 500 years. Humans How amazing we are.
Happy Thanksgiving, Lou
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,033 Posts
"I could use suggestions as to what books would be best or even adequate on the
subject of navigation. Almost all the books on line are from used book sellers."


There's a lot of good information out there (see list above) but the two that I think are the most useful are The Annapolis Book of Seamanship by John Rousmaniere, and Chapman's Pilotage. Chapman's is aimed more at power boating than Annapolis but either are great books to have handy.
SECOND The Annapolis Book Of Seamanship. It's a great reference, I'm looking forward to the new edition.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,677 Posts
James, I hate to be the bearer of bad tidings, but this is how it is with pretty much everything in life. 9 years ago, what I knew about sailboats could be written on the head of a pin. Last fall, I traveled the ICW and offshore to the Florida Keys and returned home safely the following spring. Sure, there were bumps in the road, but that's how people learn.

Same holds true with driving a car, cooking, and any other skills a person acquires in life. Navigation is not rocket science - it's common sense. You learn common sense from the school of hard knocks. The Chinese were navigating around the world in the 13th century, there is good evidence that they arrived in the Americas long before Columbus, they invented the compass, and didn't have sextants. They plotted their position by merely observing certain stars and their relationship to the poles.

I've been boating since age 8, helped set up the first Loran-A on our ship while in the navy, a monster that took four strong sailors to load into the rack on the bridge, had a hour warm up time, and the accuracy was 1/10 of a nautical mile. That was in 1958. We were amazed at how much easier it was to navigate. My first Loran-C cost nearly $1,200, the accuracy was 1/60 of a nautical mile and the only thing that caused problems were thundershowers. Of course, a sextant is just about worthless in a thundershower as well.

When I got my first GPS plotter, I fell in love with it. I no longer had to guess where the Jack Spot was located off Ocean City, Maryland. I no longer had to watch the depth finder like a hawk and hope for the best because it was a rough day on the ocean and you could barely read the compass, let alone pull out a paper chart. I plugged in the L/L for the Jack Spot Buoy, and followed the yellow-brick road. Low and behold, within a couple hours that buoy was right off the bow of the boat. I was a damned good navigator, but on a rough day with towering seas, 100-percent overcast, charts and a compass to work with, the chances of finding that buoy 25 miles offshore were slim to none. That GPS Plotter put me right on the mark every time and never blinked in more than a decade of hard use.

That said, the GPS plotter makes navigating much easier, and boating becomes more fun - and from my perspective, fun is why I enjoy boating. At my age, 73, I really don't need any more challenges in life. If someone wants to just buy a boat, get on the water, and have fun, and they can do that safely, why not employ every electronic advantage to attain that goal. I could care less if that person learned celestial navigation. I would rather them concentrate on learning the Rules of The Road, safe sail handling, docking, anchoring, cooking aboard and in doing so I sincerely believe they'll learn some pretty good navigational skills along the way. I'm confident that those novice boaters will hit some bumps in the road, but after a few years of wandering off course, they'll be able to find their way home, even at night. And, I'm sure they'll have a lot of fun during the learning process - even if they don't own paper charts or a sextant.

Cheers,

Gary :cool:
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,113 Posts
I could care less if that person learned celestial navigation. I would rather them concentrate on learning the Rules of The Road, safe sail handling, docking, anchoring, cooking aboard and in doing so I sincerely believe they'll learn some pretty good navigational skills along the way. I'm confident that those novice boaters will hit some bumps in the road, but after a few years of wandering off course, they'll be able to find their way home, even at night. And, I'm sure they'll have a lot of fun during the learning process - even if they don't own paper charts or a sextant.

Cheers,

Gary :cool:
I think James' point is that many people head out not knowing the rules of the road, how to dock or anchor or basic sail trim. There is one charter company in Annapolis that seems to specialize in renting to idiots. When I see the company logo on the bow I stay at least 10 boat lenghts away. Maybe thse people go on to take classes, read and learn. I suspect many have a bad experience and never sail again.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,677 Posts
Yes, I know which charter company you refer to. I watched one in action one day. He ran into four boats in the process of backing into a slip. Fortunately, the damages were all minor, but yes, that does happen. Thankfully, that is not usually a problem. Some will eventually learn through their mistakes, some will take classes and walk away with some additional knowledge of boating, but the vast majority will survive, have lots of fun boating, and will not kill someone in the process. ;)

Cheers,

Gary :cool:
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,705 Posts
In essence, the only way to move from being a would-be sailor to being a good sailor is to go out there and do it. It's all very well taking lessons for your day sail but when you go on your very first voyage, you are on your own and your experience only begins from there.

Fact: Very few people who are cruising the world today had the benefit of spending a part of their youth cruising with their parents.

Fact: Very few of the people who went on their first voyage alone with zero experience had a disastrous end to the voyage.

Fact: Very few people who head out on a voyage away from land do so not knowing the rules of the road, how to dock or anchor or basic sail trim.

Fact: Very few people who sailed voyages like the Dove did so without electronic navigational aids because they chose it that way – they had no choice – that was the only way they could do it. Nobody will ever convince me that Robin Lee Graham would have palmed off a Garmin GPS72 saying “Nah, I don’t need that”. But when he sailed on the Dove, a Garmin of any sort was still science fiction.

Is it also not interesting that he started with one vessel and finished with another? I haven't read the account so I don't know why but I do speculate.

Vasco Da Gama and Ferdinand Magellan made it to new continents without charts because they created the charts as they went. So I find it hard to understand why Robin Lee Graham found a need for charts, a sextant and sight reduction tables – why didn’t he just do it “the old way”. :confused:

The answer of course is simple – everyone moves along with the times. I guess we’ll never know how many people have gone on voyages being unable to navigate – it is reasonable to assume that very few of them made it to their destination. Because if they made it then they knew how to navigate - you rarely find an island in the Pacific by accident.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,720 Posts
We will always have the opportunity to come across people with fewer and better skills. I remember returning from the Bahamas in 1975 with dead reckoning and an RDF. The skipper on a boat in front of us was calling on his VHF for local knowledge regarding the Lake Worth Inlet. This put him about 100+ miles off the mark. Hearing his discussion, I knew that he had sailed west from Settlement Point for a approx. 60 mile crossing to Lake Worth. Of course, it would be hard to miss Florida by heading west, but even with a disregard for the Gulfstream I wouldn't expect him to end up that far north of his intended landfall. 'maybe add a disregard for variation and deviation? Who knows? Then there's always those that expect better results. I remember another time before GPS when we left the Bahamas for Fort Pierce. My wife was at the helm at our 0430 departure when I went below to calculate our expected arrival time with the current vector and applying the simple T=D/S formula. I came from below telling Nancie that we would break the inlet at 5PM. I was feeling pretty smug when the rock jetties were at our beam at 5:20 until Nancie turned to me an asked, "What went wrong?" Now, I must admit that I've made my mistakes and had many worst days and predictions, but what seemed like prefection to me was still off the mark for those that don't continually deal with all the variables. Now, with the GPS, it seems that everyone can be the expert and I guess that's a good thing!
 
1 - 20 of 167 Posts
Top